Thursday, April 4, 2013

How do you balance a job with college?

By Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer for CareerRookie

Working your way through school is a noble goal, but it can be incredibly difficult. Many people have started down the path, only to run into road blocks and be forced to put their education on hold.

The key to successfully balancing everything is looking to the future and planning ahead. Here are some helpful tips for pursuing your education while working.

Budget your time
Working a job and taking classes are two of the most time-consuming activities in which people participate. It is essential that you learn to budget your time and schedule your days in advance. There is no universal schedule that will work for everyone - it varies from person to person. You might try to schedule all of your classes in the mornings so you can work afternoons or evenings. Some people opt for a class schedule that gives them Fridays off, allowing them to work more hours during the weekend. Figure out a schedule that will allow you enough time and energy to fully concentrate on one thing at a time.

It's also important that you know which classes you'll need to complete in order to graduate with the degree you want. Each class costs money, and if you take too many classes that aren't required, it could not only put a dent in your finances, but also push your graduation date back.

Budget your income
How much money do you need? How much can you survive on? Financial needs vary dramatically depending on a school's tuition, whether you're going to school full time, the city's cost of living and other personal responsibilities you may have. Take the time to sit down and look at where your money goes and how many hours you'll need to work to meet your personal needs.

Go at your own pace
If you need to work to cover tuition costs while attending school, it is perfectly acceptable for you to not graduate on time. Many people don't achieve a four-year degree in four years. Employers are likely to be understanding of your situation, and they'll also be impressed by the hard work and determination it takes to achieve a degree while simultaneously holding a job.

Know what you want out of your job
Do you want to gain valuable career experience or just make enough money to pay the bills? Jobs that provide useful experience are often more demanding, harder to find and less flexible in scheduling than more menial positions. However, apart from helping bolster a résumé, these positions can often be more fulfilling. Again, each individual's situation is different, so it is important to determine what works best for you.